NAIROBI - Kenya's central bank held its benchmark lending rate at 9.50% on Monday, its Monetary Policy Committee said, to give room for previous increases to take effect.

Kenyan policymakers, who have generally been less hawkish than their African counterparts, raised the rate aggressively at their last meeting in March.

Eight out of nine analysts polled by Reuters predicted the "hold" decision, while one expected a quarter point increase.

Year-on-year inflation dropped to 7.9% in April from 9.2% a month earlier, as the cost of some food items started to fall.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri and George Obulutsa; Editing by Mark Potter)